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An investigation into the possibility of mainstreaming library user education into the curriculum of the Engineering Faculty of the M.L. Sultan Technikon.

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This study investigated whether it is possible to include user education in the curriculum of the Engineering Faculty at the M.L. Sultan Technikon. Although the user education programme is offered to all students at the Technikon, it is based on an informal arrangement between the lecturer and the librarian. The programme is not time-tabled or credit-bearing, and many students regard it as a course outside the curriculum which has little, if any, impact on their studies. In a bid to assess the feasibility of including user education in the curriculum, the study sets out to establish the views of the academic 1 staff of the Engineering Faculty and the librarians from the Library as well as those the Department of Library and Information Studies, regarding the inclusion of user education. A further objective of the study is to determine what type of skills both groups of respondents think should be taught in user education and who should be teaching the course. A description of the M.L. Sultan Technikon and the origins of its establishment and the impact of the recent inclusion of outcomes-based education in educational institutions in South Africa provide an introduction to the research. User education and its origins in tertiary institutions are discussed and the literature dealing with the inclusion of user education in international and local institutions is reviewed. The population of this study consisted of ninety-one respondents, eighty from the : lecturing staff of the Engineering Faculty, six librarians from the Library and five from the Library and Information Studies Department. Two population-specific questionnaires were designed and the method and data collection technique used in this study was the survey and the self-administered questionnaire. Thirty-two (40 %) questionnaires were returned from the Engineering Faculty and seven (64 %) from the librarians. Of the 7 responses from the librarians 4 were from the practicing librarians and 3 from the librarians from the Department. The findings of the survey reveal that the majority of both groups of respondents support the possible inclusion of user education into the curriculum of the Engineering Faculty. The ability to use the online public access catalogue (OPAC}, computer literacy and information in electronic format were rated as important skills by-the Engineering Faculty, while the librarians rated the ability to use the OPAC and indexes and the ability to find journals as important skills that should be taught in the user education programme. Conclusions, recommendations and suggestions for further research are made in the light of the results of the survey.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.